Peer exchange of city leaders at World Urban Forum – Tailoring global tools to foster local identities


In the past edition of the WUF6, the UCLG Committee of Urban Strategic planning and Culture gathered city leaders, development partners and networks to debate on management practices and peer learning around different challenges:  Can strategic planning acknowledge local identities and cultural assets? How can these be strengthened and become a reference for city dynamics?  What does this imply for the city leadership?  How do cities learn, what are the most important lessons to be extracted from daily city management?
The panellists included Violêta Kubrusly (City of Sao Paulo, Brazil); Subhatri Moonsammy (City of Durban, South Africa); Dionisio Chereua (Mozambique); Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy (United States of America) ; Mr. Baradaran (Mashad, Iran) ; Tim Campbell (Urban Age Institute) ; Josep Roig (Secretary General, UCLG) ; Sara  Hoeflich (UCLG Committee of Urban Strategic Planning) ; Jordi Pascual (UCLG Committee of Culture).
The key outcomes of the networking event are as follow:
1. Cities are the engines of transformation.Municipalities / local governments are key to transform cities towards more liveable, sustainable, democratic spaces, and need access to experiences of equals. National policies must acknowledge and support this, coincide Mozambique and USA
2. Any learning strategy of cities (municipalities / local governments) which involves international exchanges must be practical and find specific, concrete benefits (especially if it involves peer-reviews, travelling, research such in Durban and Sao Paulo that is result oriented).
3.  Citizens must be at the centre of any learning strategy of cities. Change must be felt by citizens and actors of civil society and ideally several stakeholders being involved through a “cloud of trust” (Tim Campbell 2012)
4. Identity of each city is unique. There are no two equal cities. Similarities exist. Projects / programmes / policies cannot be copied but adapted. All solutions must be tailor-made according to  local Context:  language, culture, identity, size, spatial pattern, legal and institutional systems. (Mashad cultural impact studies)
5. Integrated approach in urban planning is key. Any urban transformation requires a mix of professionals, from the social, economic, cultural, urban planning, etc. This might require ad hoc teams to cross “borders of municipal departments”. 
6.  Leadership is crucial. In the city there are many leaders; the leadership of municipal power is essential, but not enough; community and academic leaders should also have a strong role in international learning strategies. Opportunities to learn must be created for many people; also leaders outside political sphere.
7. Communication is also important. International exchanges must be explained without fear, internally, but also externally (it must be useful for other people / cities not directly involved in the exchange).
8. The XXth century (post-colonial paradigm of international cooperation) is also operational, but is becoming obsolete.There is not one region of the world that has legitimacy to “teach”. Today, cities in the so-called South learn from cities in the South; and cities in the North learn from the South.